GlaxoSmithKline [GSK: NYSE] commended the commitment of the World Health Organization (WHO) to progress plans for ensuring that the world?s most vulnerable people are protected in the event of a pandemic. Key elements of that commitment include progress being made towards the development of an H5N1 vaccine global stockpile by the WHO, and efforts to establish an additional mechanism to ensure broader access to pandemic influenza vaccine for developing world countries.
Pandemic influenza poses a serious global public health threat with substantial estimated morbidity and mortality. The exact strain that may cause an influenza pandemic cannot be accurately predicted. Some experts, however, believe that the avian H5N1 strain, now endemic in many bird species across the world, is a likely candidate pandemic strain. A pandemic vaccine would not be available until 4-6 months after a pandemic strain has been identified, highlighting the need for earlier access to protection.
GSK has been working on an H5N1 flu vaccine since 1995. In March, the company announced data that demonstrated GSK?s proprietary adjuvanted candidate H5N1 vaccine, containing very low levels of antigen (3.8?g), elicits a strong cross-immune neutralizing antibody response in humans. These recent clinical data point to the potential public health benefits of creating a stockpile of pandemic influenza vaccine.
Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO GlaxoSmithKline said: ?We share a common goal with the WHO: to deliver as much vaccine as possible to the people who need it most in the face of a pandemic flu outbreak. We will contribute to that initiative by continuing to collaborate with WHO and worldwide authorities to find a global solution to this potential healthcare crisis.?